Doc Fridays: Burden of Dreams

Burden of Dreams
Directed by: Les Blank
Running time: 95 minutes

Herzog and Blank at their bests (or nearly). The absurdity and extravagance of passion is an inspiration.

And how irresistible is young Herzog with that mustache?

Available on DVD.

DocFridays: Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Running time: 88 minutes

So much more than your average concert film. The music, the dancing, the lighting, the brilliantly choreographed build-up, and, of course, the giant suit.

DocFridays: Tizsa

Directed by: Istvan Gaal
Running time: 16 minutes

A luscious and painfully beautiful portrait of a river, its shores and its people.
I can’t even begin to put into words how spectacular this film is… It almost breaks my heart.

Doc Fridays: House is Black

House is Black
Directed by: Forough Farrokhzad
Running time: 22 minutes

This 20-minute gem was created by a female Iranian poet who died in a car crash not long after this was made. In addition to some master editing, Farrokhzad’s reading of her poetry over this graphic, yet loving portrait of a leper colony, elevates this film from poignant to sublime.

Available on DVD.

Doc Fridays: The Great Ecstasy of Sculptor Steiner

The Great Ecstasy of Sculptor Steiner
Directed by: Werner Herzog
Running time: 45 minutes

It was hard to narrow down to just one Herzog for the list. But 45 minutes of this poetically brutal sport, set to an incredible (and impossible to find) soundtrack, and guided by both WH himself (of course) and the words of Steiner, boost this one to the top of the list.

Available on DVD.

Doc Fridays: Vive Le Tour

Vive Le Tour
Directed by: Louis Malle
Running time: 19 minutes

The unusual fusion of anthropology and admiration, distance and familiarity, humor and tragedy, makes this one practically edible. And at 19 minutes, it’s exactly bite-size too.
Has to be more fun than seeing it in person.

Available in another impeccable collection from Criterion.

Doc Fridays: People on the Road

People on the Road
Directed by: Kazimierz Karabasz
Running time: 10 minutes

This is a tantalizing peek into the lives of a traveling circus troop.
I wanted to make this film for years – until I found out it already existed. It was like scratching an itch that I couldn’t reach.

Available on DVD. Though you can get it cheaper on a beautiful multi-DVD set from Poland, if you happen to be there…

Doc Fridays: Zoo

Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
Running time: 130 minutes

Each Wiseman has such a complete and precise balance between humor and revulsion. Exactingly clinical and yet excessively, humanly flawed. I am not sure Zoo is my favorite of his films, but its subject matter is close to my heart.

Available on DVD.

Doc Fridays: Pehlivan

Directed by: Maurice Pialat
Running time: 13 minutes

Shot in 1964, this short covers a traditional oil wrestling competition in Turkey. Apparently this is their national sport.
It’s extreme. And spectacular.
These guys are tapping into something… primordial…

Available as an extra on the PAL Region 2 DVD of The Mouth Agape from Eureka!

Doc Fridays: New York Portrait Chapters 1 and 2

New York Portrait Chapters 1 and 2
Directed by: Peter Hutton

NY Portrait Chapter 1

These make me want to love New York again. Enough said.

NY Portrait Chapter 1

NY Portrait Chapter 1

NY Portrait Chapter 1

NY Portrait Chapter 1

Not available.